5 Tactics Manufacturers Should Include in 2017 Business Dev. Plans

Jonathan Stanis
Posted by Jonathan Stanis on September 8, 2016

What-Manufacturing-Should-Consider-in-Their-Business-Development-Budgets-for-2017.jpgIt’s that time of year again. Time to start planning your marketing and sales budgets for 2017.

When planning your development budget for 2017, you need to consider what areas of your funnel are most in need of improvement in order to meet your 2017 goals.

Do you need more leads? Do you have plenty of leads but they're not good quality? How's your closing rate of proposals to sales? If you don't yet have a target you're trying to meet, it's pretty hard to know how you need to improve.

As a quick refresher, the stages of the online marketing and sales funnel are as follows:

  • Visits to your website
  • Contacts
  • Marketing-Qualified Leads (MQLs)
  • Sales-Qualified Leads (SQLs)
  • Opportunities
  • Customers

Let’s take a look at some of the key areas of this funnel, which parts could be experiencing problems, and how to plan to improve them with next year's budget. 

1. Need More Visitors and Contacts?

Plan for Growth-Driven Design in 2017

Is your website getting enough visitors and are those visitors converting into leads, or do they bounce off your site after only viewing it for a few seconds?

Many companiesparticularly manufacturerstend to have a set-it-and-forget-it mindset when it comes to their websites. They treat it like a brochure; once it’s done it’s done.

This is outdated thinking. In some ways it's always been outdated. The very nature of the web is that it's constantly changing. A great way to understand your visitors and what's keeping them from becoming contacts and leads is through a growth-driven design process.

Manufacturing companies are particularly suited to this style of website development because they're methodical in how they improve their products: You test your equipment, you're constantly looking for ways to make building it more efficient with things like Lean, Six Sigma, Kaizen events, etc. Growth-Driven Design (GDD) is taking the scientific method and applying it to your website. You pinpoint an area of the site you want to improve, develop a hypothesis on how you can improve it, implement the changes outlined in the hypothesis, then collect the data to determine if your hypothesis was correct. Then you repeat the process over and over, constantly improving your site.

By monitoring your site's visitors and understanding their interests and behaviors, you have the insights and data to optimize the site and your content to best serve them. There are some great tools you can add to your budget to start testing it yourself or, if you don’t have the time or expertise, you can set up a monthly budget with an agency with GDD expertise to work with you.

Some helpful tools and resources for growth driven design include

2. Looking for Better Quality Leads?

Budget for More Targeted, Niche Content

Perhaps you have plenty of visitors and contacts but they don't progress to MQLs because they're not the personas you're looking for. You want to get engineers and purchasing managers looking at your content, not students.

One thing manufacturing companies should keep in mind as they evaluate their website's effectiveness is their content: is it reaching the right influencers? Influencers for a B2B manufacturing company can be manufacturing engineers looking to solve problems in the production line, or maintenance personnel that are charged with keeping the line up and running. How would you reach those audiences to find new opportunities in 2017?

3. Want B2B Brand Recognition?

Establish a 12-month Content Campaign on Thought Leadership Categories, Such as IIOT

One way to attract that audience could be to become a resource for the latest trends in manufacturing. One of the hottest of those trends right now is the Industrial Internet of Things [IIoT]. Set aside some of your budget for creating content around the IIoT. Blog posts and videos that help your influencers understand the IIoT and how it can help their production line can be very valuable. You could create stuff so good that they might even be willing to pay for it. Don’t charge them, but create goodwill and engagement that will make you a trusted source and top-of-mind when they're looking for product or services.

Here are some other up-and-coming manufacturing technologies you can create content around in 2017 (and budget for appropriately): 

  • Virtual Reality
  • 3D Printing
  • Predictive Analytics
  • Machine Learning

4. Need to Better Explain Complex Products or Systems?

Start Taking Video Seriously. Plan Visual Storytelling Into Your 2017 Budget

A great way to get visitors to your website is with video. Video continues to grow as the percentage of internet traffic – people simply prefer it to text. (Maybe I should have made this a video blog?) There's a reason that video series like “How It’s Made” have taken off. People love to watch machines work, and this means a huge opportunity for manufacturers of all kinds. Make sure you are putting aside some of your budget for producing high quality videos of your equipment in action.

Some manufacturing companies with great videos include EDL Packaging. They have a video library of close to 100 videos hosted both on their website as well as on their YouTube channel, some of them with thousands of views. With YouTube being the second largest search engine having your video there will help your customers find you.

Here are some tips on creating video content for specialty manufacturing companies

5. Is Your Lead Funnel Non-existent Because of Data Issues?

Get Your Contacts In Order With a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform

Let’s move down the funnel. You may have enough leads, you may even be converting them into MQLs and SQLs, but you're dropping the ball when it comes to managing those MQLs and SQLs and turning them into actual opportunities and customers.

If this is your problem you might need to invest in a customer relationship management service (CRM).

It’s likely that you've heard of some of the big names in this sector, such as Salesforce. They let you manage you contacts, create timelines, and create managed opportunities. If you don’t have one already you need to add it to your budget. HubSpot’s CRM is free, making it an easy line item to add.

Maybe you already have a CRM but you're not using it effectively. The same way you can automate a production line, you can automate a lot of the process, such as notifying sales reps when an SQL has popped up so they can follow up with that person. Note that setting up workflows can get complicated, so make sure you budget plenty of time and resources to make sure it is a well-oiled process.

Here are some useful resources on CRMs, workflows, and automation:

Have a Plan For Your Budget

Budgeting can be intimidating. How do you know where you're going to need to invest you business development dollars? By looking at you sales funnel and identifying the areas for growth, you can create a plan that will show you where you need to put your budget. A great 2017 awaits!

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Topics: Inbound Marketing

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